Theresa Spinelli is on a mission to bring the arts to Schoharie, a village that’s coming back to life nearly three years after Schoharie County’s horrible flood.
In May 2013, after four months of cleaning and restoration, Spinelli opened shop in a big Victorian house on Main Street with her dog Shadow, a black lab-pit bull mix.
Called hive, with a lowercase “h” and without a “the” before the name, the place is an energetic blend of antiques, fine art and crafts, gifts, gallery and music venue.
At hive, one can buy vintage jewelry, a hand-knitted shawl, mid-century furniture, an oil landscape. There’s also a room where one can enjoy a steaming cup of tea and extra-large organic cookies.
At any one time, 70 artists, from Schoharie and Montgomery counties or New York state, are showing their work or selling it on consignment.
“It has to be made in America or it doesn’t come in here,” Spinelli says.
On the second floor, art exhibits change monthly in two galleries, and there’s also a “wee hive,” where artists age 12 and under can show and sell their work.
Through Aug. 11, Kristen De Fontes is showing “Looking In,” photographs of Schoharie, in one gallery, and Lisa Greco is exhibiting hand-drawn mandalas inspired by nature in the other.
The next show, opening Aug. 16, is “Celebrate the Bowl,” a pottery show by Terrice Bassler.
Spinelli lives in Schoharie with her husband, Michael Verrastro, who runs Big Dawg’s Dogs, an outdoor hot dog stand in the village.
Q: How do you describe hive?
A: Hive is an eclectic mix of antique, vintage, modern, handcrafted, local and arts space. It’s a whole conglomeration of different things at any given time. Always changing, always fresh, always new and old.
Q: What kind of arts events happen here?
A: I have art openings, I have book signings, I have “meet-the-artists,” I have the Music on the Porch series. Any Saturday, at any time, I could have something here, through the end of the year.
Q: Why are you doing this? Was this your dream?
A: Since the flood, the area took a while to come back, obviously. Some people stayed, some people left. But new people are coming. And this house sat here for a year. And I watched it and watched it and watched it. And I thought, it’s going to collapse on itself if somebody doesn’t save it. So I saved it. Volunteers ripped everything out on the first floor. I had a contractor, a plumber, an electrician, someone to fix the roof, and me. And that was it. We just restored it. We never left Schoharie County to get what we needed to restore.
Q: So this building was flooded in 2011?
A: The water was up to here. [Spinelli points to the top of a window, about five feet from the floor.] The woman I bought the house from was devastated because she did have a store in here before. She lived here and lost everything. I bought it in November 2012. Started working on it in January 2013 and opened on Mother’s Day.
Q: Why is it called hive?
A: After what this community has been through, it needs to congregate, to assemble and buzz.
Q: What did you do before hive?
A: I was a hairdresser for 30 years. The last shop I had was actually on Western Avenue. I put a boutique in it. I had a captive audience. I had all this hand-crafted stuff. It was called Profile Hair Design. People would come in. I would do hair. They would shop. Every six weeks, I changed everything out so they wouldn’t see the same thing.
Q: What is the building’s history?
A: I don’t know much about the history of the building, except that I was told it was built in the 1830s. The woodwork is original, and all the windows are still original, the pocket doors. We cleaned them (the floors) but I didn’t want to sand them and make them brand new because this is history.
Q: Tell me about one of the art events.
A: I had a lampworking artist here. She set up her torch outside, and we ran it through the window, and she sat in that room doing a demonstration on making glass flowers, glass beads. She had a crowd around her, and people actually took the torch and started lampworking the glass.
Q: When are most of your events?
A: Generally on a Saturday afternoon. I like to have the Music on the Porch on a Saturday between 12 and 3. That’s when people seem to be driving through town. We put chairs out there. They’ll stop or they’ll hang out at Stewart’s and listen and you’ll hear applause coming from down the street.
Q: Did the village need an art space?
A: Yes, it did. I’m it. The library does their fair share of supporting art, especially with kids. But Main Street needed color, and I want to give it color. The one thing that I want to do is bring more art to the area.
Q: Did the village need music, too?
A: Schoharie Promotional [Association] books music in the Courtyard on Friday nights in the summer. But you can never have too much music.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge?
A: Keeping it uncluttered. You want people to see the work.
Q: How did you get interested in art and handcrafts?
A: My mom and I would go to craft fairs, and we stuck to the nice ones.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Brooklyn, grew up there. My dad moved us up to the Catskills when we were young. As soon as I was 18, I left the country and went out on my own for a long time. I lived in Albany and Schenectady. I met my husband and we got married.
Q: Why did you move to Schoharie?
A: We used to take rides and we used to end up out here a lot. And I said “I could just live out here.” It took me two years to convince him and here we are. We live a mile down the road. It’s my closest commute ever. And I wouldn’t trade it. It’s awesome.
Q: How is Schoharie County doing?
A: We have come back. We have great farms. We have great artisans out here. There’s history, there’s culture. We are a half hour from the Capital District and it’s a beautiful ride, and it’s just very relaxing. When you come from Albany, down 88, and you break that hill into Schoharie County, it’s so breathtaking.
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or [email protected]
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Categories: Life and Arts